Review: Money Monster Has A Good Message Told By The Wrong People
Title: Money Monster
Director: Jodie Foster
Screenwriter: Jamie Linden (screenplay), Alan DiFiore (screenplay), Jim Kouf (screenplay), Alan DiFiore (story), and Jim Kouf (story)
Principal Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, and Caitriona Balfe
Summary: Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.
I didn’t get a good feeling the first time I saw a trailer for Money Monster. It is a movie that left such a small impression that I’m fairly sure I’ve been calling it the wrong title for days now whenever people ask me what movie I’m seeing next. That being said it did have a strong cast and a somewhat interesting idea so I wanted to give it the best shot I could. However, I also know that George Clooney rarely does a movie now unless it comes with some sort of message. The heavy handed message was the thing that killed Tomorrowland for me and I was concerned this would be more of the same.
Money Monster is a movie with good intentions that is undercut by the wrong people delivering it and forgetting to have interesting beats to backup the message.
I would probably dislike Money Monster on the simple basis that it commits a cardinal sin in a movie that is being billed as a thriller; it lacks thrills. The concept of the movie is not a bad one; Kyle Budwell, a man who has lost everything (Jack O’Connell) due to bad investment advice by a television personality Lee Gates (George Clooney), takes everyone in the studio hostage with a gun and a bomb on live TV. There are few things in the world more dangerous than a man who is convinced that he has nothing left to lose and that is what Kyle is. However, the story is so formulaic that you could practically count the various beats as they go by. “This is the moment where someone is going to die!” but they don’t. “This is the moment where the people that have been taken hostage start to believe the craziness that is being spouted by the gunman!” There isn’t a single moment of surprise throughout the entire movie.
I should say that there isn’t a single moment of surprise or tension throughout the story, but there is a moment where the entire enterprise is nearly tossed on its head. This is a message movie being delivered by the wrong people at the end of the day. It is a boss that asks about your life that clearly doesn’t care about anything you’re about to say. Money Monster is about how corrupt Wall Street is presented by Sony and starring two of the biggest names in Hollywood and directed by one of the veterans. There is a moment where Lee tries to reason with Kyle and point out that his life isn’t so bad. Kyle asks Lee “you’re going to stand there in your $1000 suit and talk about how bad your life is?” or something along those lines. Kyle is right but it goes deeper than that because the heart of the movie, the message, becomes incredibly insincere through these means.
There could have been a few easy fixes to make a movie like this interesting. Perhaps if it didn’t have such a large corporation behind it and such big stars it wouldn’t feel so disjointed. Perhaps if the message wasn’t as heavy handed and let the audience come to its own conclusions. Perhaps if the movie had embraced its premise it could have made for an interesting B movie. The fact that the movie couldn’t even be bothered to do the research as to how a proper television studio works shows how much they care about the details. I know a few reviewers who work in television, and even with my limited knowledge I could still see all of the holes in the logic. It contrives reasons for everyone in the movie to act like an idiot and when that is obvious it becomes distracting.
Money Monster is not offensively bad but much like Tomorrowland it is another George Clooney movie where the message is more important than making a good movie. Unlike Tomorrowland it doesn’t have some interesting visuals to back it up. Instead we have a plot that barely makes any sense and doesn’t take advantage of its own premise. There is nothing more irritating than someone who thinks they are the smartest person in the room when in reality they have no idea what they are talking about and Money Monster is the embodiment of that person.